Police shot and killed an eighth-grader in the hallway of his middle school Wednesday after the boy brandished what looked like a handgun and pointed it at officers. It turned out to be a pellet gun that closely resembled the real thing.
Brownsville police received a report of a 15-year-old boy with a handgun at Cummings Middle School about 8 am, department spokesman J.J. Trevino said.
Fifteen-year-old Jaime Gonzalez “had plenty of opportunities to lower the gun and listen to the officers’ orders, and he didn’t want to,” Interim Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez said.
“The subject pointed the weapon at officers, which in turn, the officers had to use deadly force,” Mr Trevino said, according to The Telegraph.
Rodriguez says that before the confrontation with police, Gonzalez walked into a Cummings Middle School classroom and punched another boy in the nose. He says he doesn’t know why Gonzalez brandished the weapon but that the initial call to police said a student had a gun.
Brownsville school district officials said administrators immediately called police after Gonzalez brandished a weapon about 8 a.m., shortly after classes started at Cummings Middle School. When police arrived, the student “engaged” the officers and was shot, district spokeswoman Drue Brown said in an emailed statement, reports CBS News.
“We think it looks like this was a way to bring attention to himself,” the police chief said. He said the officers’ actions were justified and no one else was hurt.
The school, with an enrollment of about 750 students, was placed on lockdown when administrators called police and no one else was injured.
The student was shot three times and rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. “It is still under investigation as to a reason why he was in possession of that particular weapon,” Mr Trevino said.
Police say the weapon a Texas eighth-grader pointed at officers in a school hallway before they killed him was a pellet gun that looked like a real handgun.
The boy’s father, Jaime Gonzalez Sr., said he had no idea where his son got the gun or why he brought it to school.
“We wouldn’t give him a gift like that,” he told ABC News from the family’s home, where other relatives and friends of his son were gathering Wednesday night.
Both he and his wife, Noralva, questioned why police repeatedly shot at their son and called the shooting unjustified.
“Why was so much excess force used on a minor?” he asked. “Three shots. Why not one that would bring him down?”
The boy’s godmother, Norma Leticia Navarro, said she couldn’t imagine why he would have brought a gun to school.
“I wish I could ask him why he did that, ‘Why did you put yourself in that position?'”
She said she understood that police were doing their job, but she wondered if other steps could have been taken.
“Jaime was not a bad kid,” she said. “I’m not saying he was perfect or an angel, but he was a very giving person.”
Superintendent Carl Montoya remembered Gonzalez as “a very positive young man.”
“He did music. He worked well with everybody. Just something unfortunately happened today that caused his behavior to go the way it went. So I don’t know.”
Brownsville is at the southern tip of Texas along the US-Mexico border.